Mamamoo is making R&B happen in K-pop town.
The quartet added a third EP to its 2018 project “Four Seasons, Four Colors,” a tetralogy of four seasonally themed albums, with each band member taking center stage over the course of a year. This time it’s Solar, the leader.
Following spring’s “Yellow Flower” and summer’s “Red Moon,” “BLUE;S” is a late-autumn collection composed of six breakup songs. Mamamoo gives the exhausted theme of romance gone wrong a groovy makeover with “Wind Flower,” the lead track.
Hwasa delivers a strong opening as she croons the lines “A cliched love story / Just another overtold breakup story.”
The song, however, is anything but a cliche.
“Our past songs were energetic and cheerful, qualities that have come to characterize our music. With the new song, we’re trying on a somewhat lonesome, melancholic sentimentality,” the group’s rapper-vocalist explained Thursday during a showcase event.
The music video, set in Hong Kong, paints a vivid picture of the neon nightscape that serves as the background to the heartbroken Mamamoo members as they go about their wandering and partying. “Hong Kong is a very glamorous city. I think there’s a kind of inexplicable loneliness that one feels amongst the city’s glamor,” said Hwasa.
The juxtaposition of the setting’s glamor with the breakup story is paralleled in the song’s structure. There is a sudden slowdown of tempo in the intermediary verse, which is sung in a soft falsetto, repeating the song’s title, “Wind Flower.” It then makes a cathartic transition into a burst of the pulsating grooves of the refrain.
“The breeze feels good today. I’ve got the night all to myself. Gloomy days are gone. Get better day by day,” the refrain goes, doing away with the previous verse’s brooding.
Speaking on behalf of the group, its rapper and youngest member, Moonbyul, said Mamamoo’s aspiration for the new album is for it to become “a long-lasting steady-seller as opposed to a short-lived best-seller.”
“Of course, we want our music to do well on the charts, as all artists do, but we want our music to be able to stand the test of time. We hope our songs are listened to even after a long time,” she said.
Despite the humble statement, Mamamoo has always performed well on the charts -- which makes these jazzy, laid-back and groovy voices a rare standout in an industry dominated by highly processed, sleekly synchronized styles.
It’s been a while since R&B has found a niche in South Korea. Mamamoo’s take on the genre makes it more believable, and less “K-poppy.” With “BLUE;S,” R&B may have found its best advocate in the K-pop scene.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org)